Round 9: Big Story

Posted in Event Coverage on February 28, 2009

By Nate Price

A longtime member of the Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage staff, Nate Price now works making beautiful words for all of you lovely people as the community manager for organized play. When not covering events, he lords over the @MagicProTour Twitter account, ruling with an iron fist.

Charles Gindy vs. Cedric Phillips

“So Luis [Scott-Vargas] is undefeated again. That’s a pretty big story.”

Upon hearing these words from my fellow coverage reporter Bill Stark, Charles Gindy whipped around and went on a hilarious tirade about how little a story it actually is.

“LSV is winning? That’s your story? Hey, guys, you know the guy who wins everything? Guess what! He’s winning! The real big story would be if LSV actually lost.”

After musing about this for a while and laughing over how animated he got, Gindy, Cedric Phillips, and I jokingly decided that the really big story would be if the two of them had to play each other.

Fast forward to the next round.

“Feature matches this round: Charles Gindy vs. Cedric Phillips ...”

“Big story!” I yelled as I ran up to the Arena. Off in the distance, echoes of “big story” came from the smiling pair of Charles Gindy and Cedric Phillips. Gindy and Phillips are pretty good friends, both in contention for Top 8, who sat across from each other in their draft pod, drafted the same deck archetype, and are now poised to do arcane combat against each other in the Arena. Talk about a big story! Sitting right behind them is the man behind the other “big story” of the weekend, Luis Scott-Vargas. Gindy turned around to holler at him while shuffling up for the game.

“Hey, LSV, did you hear about the big story? LSV IS WINNING! So, are you going to actually going to lose the match this round, or just a game?”

LSV chuckled a little at this. Luckily for the rest of the gaming community, LSV is actually a replicant, and so he’s only got a couple more years, maximum, before he succumbs to his built-in failsafes.

Game 1

Charles Gindy, PT–Hollywood champ, takes a break from heckling LSV.

Here in the actual big story, certified human Phillips started out really strong with a second-turn Metallurgeon followed up with an Esperzoa. Gindy made his own flier on turn three, but his Kathari Screecher was dwarfed by the ‘Zoa. Metallurgeon made a return trip to Phillips’ hand to pay for the Esperzoa’s upkeep, but it wouldn’t stay there for long. The good doctor came back down alongside an Executioner’s Capsule that would make a much better upkeep payment for the massive flier. The Zoa trundled over to deal take a huge chunk out of Gindy’s life before Phillips was content to pass the turn. I don’t think even LSV could have too much better a start.

Gindy sighed a little as he drew his card for the turn. “Cards in hand, Ced?” He thought for a moment more before playing an Esper Cormorants, which was a juicy Executioner’s Capsule target. Since he only had three lands, though, Phillips couldn’t risk turning off his Metallurgeon by returning it with his Esperzoa, so the Capsule did end up fitting the bill. After attacking with the Esperzoa for 4, he played a Tidehollow Strix and passed the turn.

Gindy had a Strix of his own on his turn, which gave him yet another way to take down the Esperzoa. Phillips finally found another land, a second Swamp. Now able to do a little more with each of his turns, he replayed the Tidehollow Strix that he had returned for the Esperzoa, as well as the Executioner’s Capsule that he had return the previous turn. The Esperzoa hovered across the sky at Gindy, but was stopped halfway by a defending Tidehollow Strix. Phillips’s Metallurgeon kept the ‘Zoa alive, though it ate up one of his precious mana. Gindy also saved his creature, with a Call to Heel returning the Strix and netting him a card. With the deathtouch creature gone before damage was dealt, Cedric didn’t actually need to regenerate, but of course it was too late.

Gindy added a level of complexity to Phillips’ Metallurgeon by playing an Executioner’s Capsule. Now, Phillips had to be careful about his activations so as not to lose the regenerator that was dominating the board. He also played a Frontline Sage which would hopefully help him draw out of his current funk.

Phillips kept returning his Capsule for his Esperzoa’s upkeep. The ‘Zoa and Tidehollow Strix threatened to drop Gindy to single digits with an attack, but the Esper Cormorants flew in front of the ‘Zoa, forcing Phillips to activate his Metallurgeon. Unfortunately for Gindy, he’d been stuck at a low land count for long enough that he couldn’t really afford to take the turn needed to off the Metallurgeon yet, so he just activated the Sage to dig for some more land. He didn’t find any, and chose to play a Windwright Mage (his only creature other than the Frontline Sage) instead of killing the tapped Metallurgeon with his Capsule.

Both players had been stuck at four lands for a few turns now, so things were going a little slow. Phillips’ Esperzoa had done its job, though, and had managed to knock Gindy down to nine. Phillips finally found a Gleam of Resistance to go grab his fifth land, an Island, and played it before sending his Esperzoa and Tidehollow Strix at Gindy. The Strix was taken out of the sky by a Kathari Screecher, but the Esperzoa hit home, knocking Gindy to 5. Phillips followed that up with a Darklit Gargoyle.

Gindy took advantage of the free skies to attack with his Windwright Mage, but Phillips used his newfound Island to Unsummon the Mage before it could do damage or gain Gindy life. Gindy had to use his Executioner’s Capsule to kill Phillips’s Metallurgeon, leaving the Esperzoa alone with a Darklit Gargoyle. Thanks to his lack of a second Swamp, he was unable to replay the Windwright Mage, leaving the path clear for the Esperzoa to drop him to one. Phillips also played out a Brackwater Elemental, the Darklit Gargoyle, and his Executioner’s Capsule.

Gindy had a couple Tidehollow Strixes for defenders, but Phillips had a Drag Down to deal with one of them, and Gindy conceded in the face of superior numbers.

Cedric Phillips 1, Charles Gindy 0

Cedric Phillips is dressed for success.

As a player in the peanut gallery whipped out a camera to take a picture of the scoreboard that showed Phillips ahead of Gindy 1-0, Gindy yelled to him to “take a picture, because it won’t stay 1-0 for too long.”

Phillips just laughed and quickly replied, “Yeah, it could be 2-0 soon.”

“Heh, true.”

After playing Plains, Island, Swamp, Windwright Mage on the first three turns of the game, Gindy just beamed at Phillips and goaded him with a little, “Isn’t it nice to run well sometimes? I mean, I don’t run well against everyone.”

“Just me?” Phillips laughed.

“Just you.”

Phillips was apparently running pretty well himself, as he found himself a perfect turn-three Windwright Mage of his own. After the two Mages ran headlong into each other, he and Gindy found a couple of Gargoyles on the following turn, with Phillips playing a Tower Gargoyle, and Gindy using a Sanctum Gargoyle to return the Mage. Gindy’s follow-up Esper Cormorants gave him the aerial advantage and prompted a comment from his opponent.

“That’s a good card,” Phillips said with a sideways smirk.

“So’s that,” Gindy replied, pointing to the massive Tower Gargoyle Phillips dropped across the table from him.

Gindy replayed the Windwright Mage he had returned with his Gargoyle and then passed the turn to Phillips. An Executioner’s Capsule from Phillips cleared away the Esper Cormorants, though it turned on the Windwright Mage, preventing his Tower Gargoyle from attacking. Phillips got to find a Sanctum Gargoyle of his own on the following turn, returning his Windwright Mage to his hand before adding the devastating Metallurgeon to his hand. At the end of his turn, Gindy used a Worldly Council to dig for an answer. What he found was a Steelclad Serpent.

Phillips’s Tower Gargoyle attacked past a couple potential blockers unabated. The Metallurgeon tending to Phillips’s wounded was really becoming a thorn in Gindy’s side. After combat, Phillips once again added to his team, this time rerecruiting his Windwright Mage and adding the islandwalking Shore Snapper to his assault squad. All Gindy could do was play a second Esper Cormorants, attack with his Serpent, and pass the turn down 10 to 13.

Phillips found a second copy of Executioner’s Capsule, which met a “sure” from Gindy. Phillips sent his Tower Gargoyle and an islandwalking Shore Snapper at Gindy. Gindy stuck his Sanctum Gargoyle in the way of the Tower Gargoyle, and when Gindy tried to return it to his hand via Call to Heel, Phillips was forced to blow his Capsule to take it out in response.

Gindy drew his card, played a Cloudheath Drake, and passed the turn. Phillips slipped in under the radar again, using his Shore Snapper to circumvent Gindy’s defenses. Down to 6 life, Gindy needed a reset, and found one, if only temporarily, in Kederekt Leviathan. Phillips was down to 13 himself, so it was possible that the Leviathan would be able to dole out a decent amount of damage before Phillips could get completely set up again.

Phillips began the rebuilding process on the following turn, with an Etherium Sculptor to power out a Metallurgeon and Tower Gargoyle, but he was forced to eat a hit from the Leviathan and drop to 8. Gindy rebuilt a little himself, netting a Windwright Mage and a Cloudheath Drake. Phillips was able to return a Sanctum Gargoyle with the Leviathan, and he replayed it to grab an Executioner’s Capsule back from his yard to deal with the Leviathan. He also got himself a Windwright Mage to match Gindy’s.

At this point, Gindy dropped an Esper Cormorants and Kathari Screecher into play before using Wretched Banquet to remove the Metallurgeon while Phillips was unable to save it.

“Now we’ve got a game,” Gindy said as he straightened up in his seat. “No more you doing stuff and me having to think of a way to live.”

“I liked it much better my way.”

Phillips's Esper draft deck is all the robot he needs.

Gindy’s Leviathan lumbered across to drop Phillips to 3, but the now-useless Etherium Sculptor saved him the 5 damage. All Phillips could do on his turn was play an Executioner’s Capsule that now no longer had an easy choice of targets, and the Shore Snapper that was his only way to circumvent Gindy’s defenses.

Now that he was no longer searching for a way to live, Gindy was able to switch over to finding a way to win. He thought for a minute or two before sending his Leviathan over to get eaten by the Executioner’s Capsule. He simply replaced it with a slightly smaller Steelclad Serpent and an Executioner’s Capsule of his own. With Phillips at 8, he had to be wary not to take 3 more damage to be put in Leviathan range. He simply sent his islandwalking Shore Snapper over to continue his work on Gindy’s life total. He had him to 4, but when Gindy used his Capsule to kill off the Sanctum Gargoyle, he took a huge creature advantage to add to the potential five he had in the graveyard with his Leviathan.

Despite things looking really good, he knew he had to be wary. Phillips had blown him out in the first game with an Unsummon, and he was dangerously low himself. He eventually decided it was safest to just attack with the Steelclad Serpent, which Phillips blocked with Windwright Mage and Tower Gargoyle. Before damage, Phillps used a Drag Down to keep his creatures alive, while killing the Serpent and gaining life from his Mage. In retaliation, Gindy used a Wretched Banquet to kill Phillips’s best source of offense.

“My Shore Snapper!”

Phillips found another unblockable source of damage, though, and dropped a Vectis Agents into play. Gindy decided it was time to reset again, and used his Leviathan to pick everything up. Phillips did have the Unsummon, and the Leviathan bit the dust. Phillips replayed his Vectis Agents and Windwright Mage, while Gindy rebuilt with a Kathari Screecher, Esper Cormorants, and a Mage of his own.

Phillips attacked Gindy down to two with the Agents before adding a Brackwater Elemental and a Tower Gargoyle to his side. Gindy suicided his Windwright Mage in to give himself another turn, but he found nothing. The Vectis Agents went ninja-style and finished Gindy off.

Cedric Phillips 2, Charles Gindy 0

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